Atlas of foodborne infections
transmitted by contaminated food and water

Atlas of Patogens Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Aflatoxins

CZ: Aflatoxiny
EN: Aflatoxins

Occurrence:
Fruits and Vegetables
Delicatessen
Cereals
Spices


Category:
Moulds


Foodborne Disease:
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mycotoxins - produced by many species of Aspergillus

aflatoxicosis - acute hepatic necrosis, resulting later in cirrhosis, and carcinoma of the liver - hemorrhage, edema , alteration in digestion, and absorption and metabolism of nutrients and mental changes and coma


Description:
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Aflatoxins are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus, most notably Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins are toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known. After entering the body, aflatoxins may be metabolized by the liver to a reactive epoxide intermediate or be hydroxylated and become the less harmful aflatoxin M1.

Aflatoxin-producing members of Aspergillus are common and widespread in nature. They can colonize and contaminate grain before harvest or during storage. Host crops are particularly susceptible to infection by Aspergillus following prolonged exposure to a high humidity environment or damage from stressful conditions such as drought, a condition which lowers the barrier to entry.

The native habitat of Aspergillus is in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains undergoing microbiological deterioration and it invades all types of organic substrates whenever conditions are favorable for its growth. Favorable conditions include high moisture content (at least 7%) and high temperature.
Crops which are frequently affected include cereals (maize, sorghum, pearl millet, rice, wheat), oilseeds (peanut, soybean, sunflower, cotton), spices (chilli peppers, black pepper, coriander, turmeric, ginger), and tree nuts (almond, pistachio, walnut, coconut, brazil nut).The toxin can also be found in the milk of animals which are fed contaminated feed.


Pictures:

Aspergillus fumigatus
Source: Aspergillus fumigatus

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